Maximize Course and Coaching Revenue Through Partnerships with Siren Affiliates

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In this LMScast episode, Alex shares information on Siren Affiliates, a platform made to enable collaborations outside of conventional affiliate networks.

Alex Standiford is owner of Siren Affiliates. He highlights how adaptable Siren Affiliates is, able to work with a variety of collaboration models outside of affiliate marketing. It facilitates content programs, for example, in which partners produce material directly on the platform to impact visitor engagement and generate revenue depending on particular criteria, such as views or interactions.

Alex talks about the value of creating dashboards that are easy to understand, customized for each partner’s position, and tightly integrated with current systems like WooCommerce or LifterLMS. Through this connectivity, partners are guaranteed to have easy access to pertinent performance data without having to deal with intricate back-end processes.

Last but not least, he stresses the significance of beginning small when introducing a platform of this kind, first interacting with a chosen set of partners to obtain input and improve the offering.

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Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special repeat guest. His name is Alex Standiford. He’s from siren affiliates. You can find that at siren affiliates. com. This is a product that’s coming out or has just come out. For affiliates and all kinds of innovation around what partnerships are and how to leverage them on your WooCommerce and your learning site.

It’s, super exciting. Just all the innovation and Alex’s thoughts around creating effective incentivized partnerships, but first welcome back on the show, Alex. 

Alex Standiford: Hey, Chris, I’m glad to be here. It’s been a minute. I’ve the weather is a little different than it was last time. 

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s a little different.

What you’re building here with siren affiliates is really at the heart of online business. In the sense that we, as creators, we make things, we sell things, we create digital products or physical products, content, we’re creators. So anybody listening to this episode, if you’re watching us they have a desire to create, but then what happens with the artist, the creator, is they have to sell and then they do as best as they can, but then they want to look for partnerships and they want help with content and they want technology to be able to facilitate or help facilitate all those relationships and contributions.

So I’m super pumped about siren affiliates. At a high level or sorry. Yeah. Siren affiliates. com. I checked myself because you’ve often said in our conversations, it’s not just affiliate. There’s more going on here. So give us that broad, high level view of your vision for siren affiliates. 

Alex Standiford: Yeah. Okay, great.

You’re right. It was with great difficulty. I had to go with siren affiliates because I just couldn’t think of a term that people would instantly latch onto, right? It’s the de facto online partnership that people think about in this context. So siren affiliates is an affiliate platform.

But unlike your typical 1, it doesn’t look at an affiliate program as the only program you can possibly create an affiliate program is 1 of many different types of programs that you can make as long as you can track. As long as you can measure a person’s performance, you can pay them based on that performance.

So I think of it as a pay for performance platform more than anything. I’ll give you, I’ll give you a more solid exam, a couple of solid examples here. An affiliate program is one, right? So you pay, you have a special affiliate link that an influencer or maybe some kind of content creator, whatever they are, they have a link that they give to their people.

You’ve heard these, right? Like use coupon code, blah, blah, blah at the checkout. They want that because they want to get credit for those sales. But what if I am a content? What if I want to have people write content on my own site instead of their site? So I could maybe create something like a content program where you publish content through my site instead of your own.

Maybe, you’re finding people who don’t have an audience or something like that, but they’re good writers and you just need content on your site. So you could create a writing program where anytime somebody visits that specific post, maybe that’s a trackable event, right? Somebody visited this specific post, so you can associate that person with that visit and then turn that into a sale or into a referral or something like that, just like you did with the influencer or the content creator that’s outside of your site.

So that would be a whole different program that could work in addition to an affiliate program. So you could potentially stack. Different programs together, or mix them together in different ways. Another possible option could be something like this is this is right up your alley. Of course, creation set up.

Maybe maybe you wanted to create a a learning site that is built by several course creators, and maybe you want to manage all these course creators. And help them provide them with a platform to publish their content. It would be Siren makes it, will make it possible to set it up so that those people can earn a percentage of your profits based on their courses performance.

Maybe it’s based on the number of people who complete the complete courses. It could be based on how many minutes people spend watching those videos. It could be. Based on anything. If it’s measurable within say lifter it would be integrated in a way that you can track that and reward those people directly.

Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. One of the most popular videos on our YouTube channel is how to build a Udemy clone, and you’re essentially saying if you want to do that this is siren affiliates. It’s the best I’ve ever seen and how you’re laying it out to manage all that. Cause it sounds easy. Oh, I want a website like you did me, but there’s a lot going on there and you take it, you always take it even further, like not just revenue share, but how do we get those creators on our platform, helping bring traffic, pay for performance on that.

Create content, pay for performance on that. And what is the conversion? It’s not just a sale. Like you said, it could be a view or a time on the side or whatever. There’s like lots of options there. 

Alex Standiford: Yeah, exactly. 

Chris Badgett: Tell us, you’re also innovating around, we were talking about money, like affiliate commission or incentives.

But you’re also thinking about award awarding partners with things like credits or cash, tell us how you envision the reward program or the award program. 

Alex Standiford: Yeah. So any given affiliate or any given reward program pay for performance program at all, is. It really is broken down into a few things, right?

It’s broken down into what is the thing you’re tracking? How many, how much is that thing worth? So if you have a visit, that’s worth maybe let’s back to that blog example. Maybe a blogger writes a post. Maybe a visit is worth 1 point and maybe a comment is worth like 10, right? So you’re able to like, track multiple things and assign a value to those things.

And based on that value, you can then determine what the payout is. But the payout doesn’t have to be money. It could be store credit. It could be cash, right? It could be high fives whatever works for you. Maybe you have some kind of internal system where you are like a big company or something like that.

And you have a support setup like this. I see this a lot for like bigger corporate companies where They have an internal reward program, where if you have so many points, you can go and spend that on a 25 Starbucks card or something like that, right? This system could also work with those internal teams, like a support team.

You could set up a program where there’s a specific pool of points that your team can earn based on their respective performance. Whoever gets the most good high reviews or the best feedback or the satisfaction rates high, or maybe it’s based on the number of sales. They the people they convert or something like that in those sales.

There’s so many different ways that this can be approached. Not even just in terms of you do a thing, I give you a dollar. It can be. You do a thing and I give you store credit. I give you some other currency. It can be anything. 

Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s, super cool. Talk to us about the dashboard experience and, also you’re, launching this with a focus on WooCommerce.

So WooCommerce has a dashboard, but the, whole. Affiliate or partner program. It needs its own dashboard stuff. So what’s going to be possible there? 

Alex Standiford: Yeah. That’s actually going to depend a lot on the integrations. My goal with this is to make it so that the collaborators, I call them collaborators, affiliates, or whatever you want to call them, right?

The, your partners. Is to provide them with an interface where they can have. Clarity and on the statistics that they need, but depending on what integration you’re using, that can vary. An affiliate doesn’t necessarily need to see their list of courses. But they, because they don’t have any, but they do need to know how many people have.

Visited the site as a result of their link, how many people have converted and all kinds of other statistics. And affiliates. Okay. Dashboard might look completely different than a course creators dashboard. And I am setting this up so that the dashboard will integrate deeply with those different things with the expectation that.

You won’t even have to those people don’t even necessarily have to see the WordPress dashboard at all. With lifter, for example, 1 of the, 1 of the simple the clear ones is for a course creator program. You can the, affiliate dashboard would include a list of their courses that they have and then they would have the opportunity to view that course or edit that course.

And once they click edit, that would take them into the the, LMS lifted LMS is course editor. For their content. 

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I know people get really focused around affiliate programs in terms of following the money. Can you give us a little more, like how it would work? Like, how would, what are some ways you could set up the money flow, particularly in the Udemy clone example, what are some options around how that works?

Alex Standiford: Okay. So One of the challenges, one of the, years that I’ve had whenever I’ve built programs like this, because like, all of this is coming from a decades worth of knowledge for me building these programs in my own agency. I didn’t have the software to do it. I was modifying existing affiliate solutions to make this work.

But one of my biggest fears was always. Now, I never wanted to decouple the money that’s coming in from the money that goes out, right? Because you don’t want to accidentally owe more money than you’re paying out. So there’s a little bit of a danger there, right? Because if you have an affiliate program and maybe you’re paying like 40 percent on that and a content program, and it’s maybe it’s paying 40%, these are really high percentages.

I’m just giving you an example. And then maybe you also have a sales program that’s like separate from your affiliate program. And it’s also 40%. If all three of those can stack, you’re paying 120%. You’re going to end up losing money on that. So you have to be thoughtful about the, out in the end.

And in order to solve that, I’ve created different ways to allow people to, make the payout methodologies work. So you can obviously do a percentage, right? You can also do a fixed amount, just like you can with any other affiliate program. But there’s two other ones that I’m really excited about. One of them is they’re both profit shares.

So one’s a weighted profit share and one’s a basic profit share. And this is literally what you’d companies like Udemy is doing. They, if you go and you look at their terms, they literally say, we take all of our profits and we take 25 percent of that. And we give it to all of course creators that money is the pool that is available among all course creators.

And the amount you get for that is based on how much your performance, right? How much traffic you’ve driven. So this is literally just doing that exact thing. So you can create a weighted profit share where you say. This month, my, my memberships earned me a thousand dollars or something like that.

I am paying out 25 percent of that amount to all of my course creators. So I would have a 250 pool available to all of them. And it’s just based on how much. How their performances, right? I was saying earlier, a comment or a visit was like, worth 1 point or 5 points. You could translate that into course content with every time a student completes 1 of their courses.

They get a few points or something like that, and maybe it’s every time a video is completely viewed or 80 percent viewed or something like that. Maybe it’s like a 10th of a point for every like minute watched or something like that. There’s, you can create this holistic way to measure the health and the effectiveness of a course creator around multiple different statistics, not just 1 and then use that in combination with the different payout methodologies.

That allows you to make sure that you are not only paying them based on their performance, but also making sure you’re not inadvertently paying out more than you’re bringing in. 

Chris Badgett: That makes sense. Very cool. Yeah. It’s, like creating a course. Like you really have to do some. Design time and structure time and make sure you build, you think through all the cases, like what, if somebody is an affiliate, a creator and all these different things, what challenge I see in the space, or it’s more of an observation is that there are affiliates that are classic affiliates.

They may not even be a user of your product. They’re trying to make money online through affiliate marketing. And some like at Lifter LMS as an example, selling software we have some affiliates like I just described, but then there’s also some of our users become affiliates to develop another income stream.

And then there’s this. Other thing where somebody just, it would be called a referral program where maybe they get some points or credits based on their referrals, but they’re actually not that interested in affiliate marketing. They just want to refer it’s like the same folks who would leave you a five star review on a review site, 

Alex Standiford: your biggest fans.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, but they’re just not really interested in becoming affiliate marketing or becoming affiliate marketers. As I think through having an option for everybody, maybe somebody just wants to write content for your blog and they have a different thing or motivation. And then maybe you have that power user that wants to do all of that.

A super fan. How do you think through, or what would your advice be in terms of as a platform creator educating people about all your different programs and Basically, it’s one thing to build the programs. It’s another, the pay for performance programs. It’s another to get people really using it. And yeah.

So what are your thoughts around that? 

Alex Standiford: So I actually did an email series. I have an email series that’s related to this, but basically I, whenever I’m starting a program and I’m going to do exactly this with siren, I’m starting. Small and private, you have to treat this almost in the same way.

You treat a product launch, right? You’re in a lot of ways. This is a product launch. You’re launching an offering to the public. You have to treat it like that. Do you know what I mean? So you, start with your existing contact list, your existing contacts and you, start. Trying to find interest engage how much how many people would potentially sign up for something like that.

Obviously, you want to have something prepared ahead of time, but you wouldn’t just email your entire list with a program without you wouldn’t email your entire list. That you have a course that’s ready if you never looked at the course or made sure it worked. So why would you do that with a program like this?

So you would want to test it a little bit. Make sure it’s working. Make sure it’s effective. Make sure it’s. Helping, and in order to do that, you you want to do almost like a private. Smaller launch where you have. Maybe you’re testing it out with 10 or so people that you think are really going to be a great fit for this and you start there.

You work with them very closely. You have meetings. You get feedback. You talk to them and you work with them to succeed. And with all of that information, you now have, you’re now going to be properly equipped to actually be able to, others succeed at a bigger scale. So once you have that initial logic and then initial information, you can educate at scale.

Even if it’s a court, it could literally be a course, right? It could actually just be a course on how to sell your product. But it, the important part is you have to look at these people as partners. And like customers, and you were in a lot of ways, their coach, right there, you’re helping them succeed.

They’re not helping you succeed. And once you flip that mindset, and you think about it like that, it really changes things. There’s a lot of people out. There’s a lot of affiliate programs out there that. All they ever talk about is how do you get 100 affiliates? How do you get 1000 affiliates?

And almost every time I’ve ever spoken with somebody who has an affiliate program that’s actually bringing in a meaningful amount of money, they will always tell you. Oh, yeah, like 90 percent of it comes from a handful of my affiliates and the rest of them don’t really do much. So why are you worried about getting 100 affiliates when really all you need is 10 really good ones.

So start there, start finding the really good engaged ones, run with them, work with them, figure out what’s working for them and for you, and then try to scale that up to set up success for everybody else. 

Chris Badgett: I think at Lifter LMS we have around 1500 affiliates and just to confirm what you were saying about 30 of them really move the needle.

Yeah. So why not just focus on the 30 not exclude people, but like when you think about it, think about quality over quantity. 

Alex Standiford: Yeah. And even dig into meeting with them and talking with them and treating them. As like super affiliates partners. Exactly.

Chris Badgett: I also agree with what you said about the courses. Like we actually, I think we’re about 60 days into a new free course we made on our left rail mess Academy about how to become an affiliate, understand it. These are the players. This is how it works. This is how to join a program. This is how to promote and actually investing in training your people to be good partners is a really good idea.

One of the areas I got into trouble. Earlier on as a course creator, essentially building a Udemy clone, I had a organic gardening and permaculture site, and I would partner with these. This is before Lifter LMS. I would partner with these some really amazing experts. People would fly all over the world to see these people talk.

And. And I would show up with my video camera or hire a videographer, like basically record the content, do the add them to the website, do all the tech stuff, promote it. As a bootstrapped entrepreneur, one of the ways that I was able to do that with very little resources is I gave away, I just kept it simple and did like a 50, 50 partnership.

On the revenue through those programs, and there was an affiliate program on top of all that as well. But what I found over time is that the partnership ended up being skewed in the sense that, of course, they’re the experts content was really valuable and important and key. But I was doing all these, this work ongoing for marketing and growing and maintaining the platform and administration and all that stuff.

So you mentioned it before, but I just wanted to dig in a little bit. Do you, in your time in the industry, what do you see as like good partnership percentages? And I know that’s an, it depends answer, but I think the classic question is. If I do an affiliate program, what should my percentage to affiliates be?

Do you have any advice around that? 

Alex Standiford: Do that for me, I based that entirely on my profit margin. 

Chris Badgett: Yeah. 

Alex Standiford: And how many different programs I want to have and the different roles that I want to create in my business. Because I really, that’s what I see this as I see these partnerships as. An encapsulation of a role in my business, right?

So the sales program is for myself, the sales people that I want to have in my business the, content writers has a program. I’m actually going to do a bug bounty program in siren. That’s for developers. Like my, a lot of my solution for hiring and outsourcing development. Is going to be through siren using a program.

It’s programs all the way down. But the for me the, rate to charge depends. Of course, it depends on what your competitors are charging and what they’re offering and all of that stuff. But it also depends on what your profit margin is, right? So if you’re. If your margin is 50% or something higher like that, then you can probably get away with doing as much as 30 percent of that going into your affiliate rate or something like that.

But if you’ve got like a 10 percent or lower rate, which I’m sure most of your customers don’t have because they probably don’t have a lot of overhead because it’s a digital product. Then you’ve got to look at lower, really low rates. And actually at that point, it might be hard to even compete and create a competitive affiliate program.

But that doesn’t mean that just means that an affiliate program may not be right for your specific business. That doesn’t mean that other programs aren’t right. It’s just, you have to like reframe what are your partnerships? What are the things that you need in your business? So if you looked at your Company structure, even if you are just a single solopreneur, or maybe it’s just you and a partner you look at what are all of the roles in the business and every 1 of those has an offer.

Probably has an opportunity. Not all of them, but most of them have an opportunity that they can be done either as an with an employee. With a freelancer or with a program that somehow incentivizes people to do it. The program may not 100 percent replace an employee or something like that. But for me as a solopreneur, if I can get two thirds or even a third of my content on my site written by somebody else who’s being paid based on their performance that’s, a big deal, right?

I’m, able to cut back on how much time I’m spending on this Without necessarily spending more money on it today. 

Chris Badgett: I love that. That’s a really good reframe to think of it as a team member, independent contractor, and literally in the U S and this is not tax or legal advice. You, if an affiliate makes over 600 a year you’re, that’s an independent contractor, 10 99 form that has to be filed and stuff like that.

But yeah, thinking about it as a team makes a lot of sense. And pay for performance is a powerful way to create a great product or service. Because instead of the team member or partner having the mindset of I have a job, this is how much I make every two weeks or a year. It’s I get paid on results.

And that’s why like real estate agents as an example, have a commission that they make if they sell the house. And that’s, we see this a lot in sales, but it can go to other places as well, which is one of the amazing things that’s so innovative. With siren affiliates tell us more about pay for performance, like some other ideas for people.

Alex Standiford: Sure. And the 

Chris Badgett: impact of it. 

Alex Standiford: And also it doesn’t have to be 100 percent that, right? So you could, this could also be something that augments a an existing, like employee or something like that. So maybe you have a 

Chris Badgett: Bonus Exactly. 

Alex Standiford: Yeah, precisely. You can use it to incentivize People for those kinds of things.

And I don’t necessarily know if it would help you get a better rate or anything like that, but it certainly is. There to help incentivize people. If you’re trying to, if you’re at a point where you are trying to, if there’s like a specific number or some kind of specific statistic that you really need to work on, maybe your churn rate is really bad or, something like that, like in software, that’s what we deal with right now.

I guess you’re guys, your customers do as well, right? They have to deal with churn because they have memberships. So you can look at that and say, what do we need to do to fix that? To improve this, right? And one of the things you can do is build a program, around that for the people who can actually make change in that regard.

So you can, instead of spending money on more marketing and exclusively on more marketing and more things like that to improve that you can take that and then reinvest in your own people and not and it’s a win because not only are you giving them something to focus on and something to a motivation, but you’re also You’re instead of taking that money and then giving it to some other company or some other entity, you’re keeping it in house, right?

You’re not you personally aren’t getting that money, but I think it’s cool to be able to improve the welfare of the people who work with me by directly giving them. A reward for having an improved impact on the things I care about. 

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s, dig in a little more on WooCommerce specifically.

WooCommerce is, there’s a lot of sites out there that use it. There’s a lot of them that want more sales and maybe you want help creating products and programs. What could a WooCommerce user do regardless of whether they’re using an LMS or not? 

Alex Standiford: Woo. The there’s the affiliate program.

Of course, there’s also the sales program, which this is interesting because it is different than an affiliate program in my head. Whenever I say sales program, I’m thinking more of the traditional sales person, right? The person who actually reaches does like the outreach and things like that.

They’re usually the closers right there. They’re the ones that actually complete the conversion or something like that. Particularly if you’re selling like higher priced things. A salesperson can make a lot of sense, even if they’re working in conjunction with an influencer or a, content creator, I keep saying influencer cause it’s anyway.

So maybe the content creators are bringing the people to the site and then that is somehow setting up some kind of flow elite, it’s just coming in as a lead. And then the salesperson takes that lead and they’re able to you To convert that. And if that salesperson converts that sale, they get a cut.

And the person who actually made the original referral also gets their cut too. So what’s really interesting about that to me is, and that’s distinctly unique about Siren and the dynamic of creating multi platforms like this, is those two people now have a vested interest in working together. So instead of it being affiliate, an affiliate program, which is inherently competitive imagine a scenario where two affiliates.

Can actually work together that it doesn’t exist because of the very nature of the fact that there must always only be one winner In every affiliate program that is not true with siren You can have a salesperson who helps you close You can have an influencer who brings in the traffic and they both get their own credit and what’s really interesting is even with that from a woocommerce standpoint is You can actually set up an affiliate program so that multiple affiliates From the same program, get credit so you can set it up so that instead of only the last affiliate who for the traffic gets all the money you can set it up to where the last one gets half of it.

And then the person after that gets 25 percent and the person after that gets 12 and a half. And it goes down. You can divide it evenly among them. With that kind of stuff and with the ability to make it to where multiple people can actually earn commissions from this. You’re setting it up so that these people can actually collaborate and just imagine the possibilities of having two influencer type people who have big audiences that don’t necessarily overlap, or they collaborate together to create some kind of specific funnel that allows them both to be able to end up bringing in more than they would have otherwise been able to do on their own.

Chris Badgett: Man you’re the guy for this. Just, I love how clear your thinking is like nerding out on last touch attribution and an affiliate marketing. And the problems with that and making it more collaborative and share the wealth kind of multi partner approach is really cool. It’s really innovative and it’s really strong.

And I love seeing the innovation that you have here. So go to siren affiliates. com join the email list if it’s out go ahead and buy your copy today and start innovating and growing your revenue and your partner community. What other final words for the people do you have Alex and, how else can people connect and learn more about siren affiliates?

Alex Standiford: I can I’m, in the, Littler LMS communities too, so I’m, in your spaces. I’m around there. So if. I happen to see any questions related to this. I’ll probably just jump in and answer. But in addition to that, you can find me. At Alex Stanford dot com, and you can message me directly on there with any questions.

There’s also a chat bubble on siren affiliates. If you have any questions, you can post them on there. And please, by all means, I welcome and want questions. I want to hear. What people think of this, because there is some novelty in this, right? There’s a lot of things. There’s new concepts and new innovations.

And I, I really am interested to hear and what people are what’s exciting people about this kind of technology and what kind of things they would like to see more of. And I’m in a very, and especially if you sign up for that, the email list to get early access to this. You’re going to get early access to it, but you’re also going to be on the ground floor with me on this where we’re able to you’re going to be able to really directly influence some of my.

Decisions on how I proceed with this. 

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. So talk to Alex and I just want to affirm what he’s saying there. Alex interviewed me and some of the team, I think three times, like really digging into the course creator, the membership, the course marketplace, challenges in the space. And as a guy who’s been around a lot of product founders and stuff, the best ones do that sort of thing.

Who’s ever, whoever’s closest to the customer wins, as they say. And you’ve definitely demonstrated that through the whole journey of siren affiliates. So go to siren affiliates. com. We’ll have Alex back on, we’ll do a live webinar when the Lifter integration rolls out. I know the WooCommerce integration is rolling out first, and there’s a lot of WooCommerce users out there watching and listening to this, so get ready.

It’s almost here. And it may already be out. Just go to siren affiliates. com. Thanks for coming on the show, Alex. Go check out our other episode with Alex. And head on over to siren affiliates. com. And I can’t wait to reconnect down the road and explore this further and be a user of siren affiliates, myself.

Alex Standiford: Look forward to it.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at LifterLMS. com forward slash gift. Go to LifterLMS. com forward slash gift.

Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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